Toyota, Gibbs on winning track


A foreign manufacturer is taking over an American series, another woman blasts a milestone, and energy drinks are fueling our need for speed.

Get in my draft and we'll race through a monumental weekend.

The first stop is NASCAR, where Toyota is like Godzilla prancing through wet concrete to get a foothold in its second Sprint Cup season, as its drivers have won three of nine races.

Add to that, victories in six of 10 Nationwide races and three of five Craftsman Truck races for Toyota.

For Clark County high school math students, I'll do the calculations: Toyota has won 12 of 24 NASCAR titles. That's 50 percent.

Kyle Busch accounts for seven of those victories. That's -- let me get my calculator -- 29 percent.

Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have provided all of Toyota's Cup and Nationwide wins.

That leaves six NASCAR wins for Chevrolet, four for Ford and two for Dodge in NASCAR's three national series.

Through nine Cup races a year ago, Chevrolet had won eight and Ford one. Gibbs' first win didn't come until the 17th race.

Toyota could muster only three top-five finishes.

Toyota was smart to get its hands on Gibbs.

You often hear Toyota drivers brag about their great horsepower. Do they have more than the American manufacturers, or are the Gibbs teams just that good? ...

Where was NASCAR's disciplinarian when Kevin Lepage violated an on-track rule in Saturday's Nationwide race that caused a 15-car crash? Lepage's mistake probably cost a million dollars in damage and lost prize money for those involved.

The veteran admitted a day later to his mistake when he blended from exiting pit road onto the track improperly and took out about one-third of the field with 47 laps left in Talladega, Ala.

NASCAR fines drivers, crew chiefs and teams for often minor mechanical infractions but has yet to punish Lepage. What he did was worse than any loose oil tank lid like the one that cost Carl Edwards' Roush Fenway Racing team $100,000 and 100 championship points after winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March. ...

If Ashley Force were hit with a fine like that, she would have to win three NHRA Funny Car titles to pay it. The 25-year-old made about $40,000 for winning Sunday in Commerce, Ga.

But becoming the first woman to win in the 40-year history of the category is priceless.

She did it eight days after Danica Patrick reached the milestone in IndyCar racing.

Force hasn't received the national acclaim Patrick did for her milestone. That's either a slight of drag racing, indication of NHRA's ineptness to generate nontraditional media exposure or a combination. ...

NHRA wizards conjured only two journalists who asked questions in a hastily called teleconference session Friday to announce Full Throttle energy drink will take over for Coca-Cola cousin Powerade next season as sponsor for its national pro tour. ...

It's becoming an energy drink racing world -- with or without vodka -- and the Rockstar brand bubbled to the top last weekend in the opener for the Championship Off Road Racing series in Pomona, Calif.

Las Vegas-based Menzies Motorsports juiced sponsor Rockstar by dominating the two-day event when Southern Nevadans Rob MacCachren and Bryan Freeman topped their respective Pro 2 and Single Buggy classes.

The team owned by Steve Menzies took the fizz out of challengers sponsored by Monster and Red Bull human octane boosters.

On the subject of stadium desert racing, the annual SCORE Las Vegas Cup IV event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway's Dirt Track will return July 18 and 19 thanks to added financial backing from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which makes up for the loss of sponsorship from Herbst Gaming's Terrible Herbst.

Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday. He can be reached at 383-0247 or jwolf@reviewjournal.com.

 

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